We love going to weddings—where else can we wear that fabulous Philip Treacy hat we snagged during our semester abroad for a pence?—but after shelling out cash for plane tickets, hotel rooms, dresses and shoes, who has money left over for a gift?
Whether you’re a civilian attendee or in the bridal party, LearnVest has four big ways to scale back the financial strain and ramp up the fun.
Spend Points, Not Cash
If you have an American Express card or are a member of other rewards programs, consider finding out where a couple is registered and then cashing in points for gift certificates to those places. One of our friends was thrilled to get a wedding present of $200 towards Crate and Barrel this way.
Team Up on Gifts
If you know other people attending the wedding, pitch in as a larger group. That way, you can buy the couple one big gift. The year after we graduated we teamed up with our 9 college housemates to buy a Wii with a ton of accessories and games, totaling nearly $1,000. Score!
Grab a Travel Buddy
Don't let going to an out of town wedding solo dampen your budget—or your fun. If you know people who'll be there see if they'd be up for sharing rental cars or hotel rooms. Staying at Le Meridien in San Francisco costs approximately $300 for one person; for $350 four people can crash together in a room with two double beds. That's savings of over $200!
New to this crowd? Ask the bride or groom to help set you up with other guests who are interested in splitting. We met one of our closest friends after the bride suggested we split a hotel room in Milan. (And, even better, we had someone to venture with us to the Prada outlet!)
If you feel like you're with the same crowd at every wedding and have nothing new to wear in front of them, exchange dresses with a friend in a different circle. You'll both look fresh for the next fête and can sock away the extra dollars you saved.
No friends in other circles? No problem! (Though you really should get out more...) Check out new site Rent The Runway, to "borrow" designer dresses right from the shows. Who needs to know that Uncle Karl (Lagerfeld) didn't lend you the dress?
Now get out there and catch that bouquet!